Empowering Women in Business: Mason School Hosts Sixth Women’s Stock Pitch & Leadership Summit

Teams from eighteen top universities across the United States, Canada, and Australia competed for $10,000 in prizes

For the sixth year, and for the first time using a virtual format, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and the Boehly Center for Excellence in Finance proudly hosted the Women’s Stock Pitch & Leadership Summit from Friday, March 26th through Saturday, March 27th.

The event served as an opportunity for undergraduate students from William & Mary as well as top colleges and universities from across the world to delve into the world of finance, compete for bragging rights and cash prizes, learn about rewarding job opportunities, and network with leading alumni and professionals who have established successful careers in a predominantly male-led field. This year, international teams from The University of British Columbia in Canada and Griffith University in Australia joined the competition via Zoom along with their American counterparts.

“While I am sad that you cannot all be together with me in person, I am nonetheless excited that we have found a way to bring this event majestically to life this year despite the pandemic’s impact on all of us,” Dean Larry Pulley said during his opening remarks.

The program kicked off on Friday afternoon with career exploration and networking sessions during which participants met with alumni and corporate partners to gain a high-level understanding of the different opportunities available in the business world upon graduation. The majority of the students who attended the event were first- and second-year students with an interest in pursuing business academically and as a career.

The day’s activities were capped by a keynote address and Q&A session with Josephine Umana ’93, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Freddie Mac’s Investment & Capital Markets (I&CM) business and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Todd Boehly ’96, served as the moderator for the Q&A portion of the event. Boehly is the Co-Founder, CEO and Chairman of Eldridge Industries in addition to serving as a benefactor with his wife Katie Boehly ’95, for the Mason School’s Boehly Center.

Umana shared her experience as an undergraduate accounting major who was recruited by KPMG as a sophomore because of her foreign language skills. She took a semester off of school and moved to France for a six-month internship that began in Paris and took her all over the country to perform auditing services for the company and allowed her to immerse herself in the language and culture.

“I know many of you in the audience are thinking about what to major in and many of you are considering the business school,” she said. “As I look back on my 20-year-old self, I am so proud of what I was able to accomplish and there were definitely a lot of lessons learned from that experience. The three that have stuck with me in particular, and what I would emphasize to you, is to be resilient, be flexible, and believe in yourself.”

Saturday morning began with the preliminary stock pitch round. Each two-to-four-person team had an opportunity to present their pitch and convince a panel of judges why their stock was a winner. The top four teams advanced to a final round which included an additional 10-minute pitch and 10-minute Q&A session with a new judging panel.

The day’s programming also included panel sessions on leveraging technology to cultivate a professional network and the importance of diversity in the workplace. The students benefited from personalized coaching and feedback sessions through which they received real-time critiques on their stock pitches, mock interview skills, and networking abilities.

Cindy Davis ’80, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond and President of Decorist, delivered the event’s second keynote address where she spoke about her experience as a marketing executive building some of the most well-known brands in retail, hospitality, and entertainment. She shared with the audience her thoughts on the importance of building a personal brand in today’s technology-saturated world.

“Personal branding includes your experiences, skills, and values – the things you want to bring together to make a mark on the world,” she said. “Developing and managing your personal brand has never been more important. It’s critical for you as you enter your career to determine your personal brand and make sure that brand is coming through across all channels.”

Davis also facilitated a six-minute, Six Word Story workshop through which participants were encouraged to zero in on their personal brand essence using six words to describe themselves. Several students volunteered to share their stories, including Tatiana Montes W&M ‘21] who discussed hers, “learning everything with an excited heart,” and Taylor Robinson W&M ’23 who created “seeking reinvention everywhere, failing forward triumphantly” in the six-minute time frame.

“As you leave today and continue to refine your six-word story, I encourage you to...infuse your unique super power and your unique brand. Remember to be bold. Women in general tend to be not as comfortable promoting themselves and talking about their accomplishments. Ask for help from the people who know you best. They’ll give you the real you.,” Davis concluded.

Ultimately, the University of Texas at Austin won first-place for their pitch on Revolve and secured a $5,000 prize. The University of British Columbia took second place with their presentation on InMode. Johns Hopkins University and the University of Alabama rounded out the top four coming in third and fourth places with their proposals on Waste Management and Green Dot, respectively.

“On behalf of all of the participants here today, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Women’s Stock Pitch Advisory Council for all of the hard work they put into planning this weekend’s program,” said Dean Pulley. “Each year they think about ways that we can continue to build upon the momentum of this spectacular event. I want to thank our corporate partners and donors who provide the funding to continue to make this a signature event for the business school and for William & Mary overall. I also want to thank all of the volunteers who are here with us today, including our esteemed alumni, members of the planning committee, and student leaders, as well as the members of our Mason School team and partners who have effortlessly managed mission control in Brinkley Commons here at Miller Hall.”